I sit in the lazy boy chair staring at my first notebook. An easy little spiral bound green journal. I am equipped with a pen and three different colours of post it notes. Greys is on in th background, but I am able to focus on the task at hand as I have pre-watched this season on demand. I take a deep breath and open to the first page…
I flick through the pages, focusing on Ellie’s story. It is in four parts. Dragon Princess, Daughter of the Sword, Princess Lost and Queen by Right. I have since changed the titles to something that suits, but my early notes are titled as such for easy finding; I carried it on to the present day so I can marry them all together when I eventually sit down to write them.
Tonight is that night. It is the first of many notebooks to take and organise. I have seen a few things that need altering and one that needs to be ditched. However, I am working my way through! I have started – and I am on my way to this scary exciting challenge I have set myself. I don’t know the full specifics yet, but I will work it out and aim to work to it every day.
I got lucky with my first pick – only a quarter of the book is filled with notes. It is close to my bedtime, so it works out. I will do my best to not over do things and still have a family life balance. I end my first night of prep feeling great, knowing that my plan and my story are both on track. I close the sage green cover, lower the footrest and head in the kitchen to make work and kindy lunches.
30th July, 2017: Prep work book #2
Although my 100 days of writing project hasn’t begun yet, l have been aiming to do a little bit of writing every day. Over the last few days, I have written in my current notebook, written letters and postcards and a few things for my blog. Today I was able to get around to prepping another notebook; the boys had gone model shop crawling (yes, it’s a thing) and so after a bit of a tidy up, an episode of vampire diaries and a nice long HOT shower ALONE, I was all geared up to start again! Today I picked up my purple checked notebook. I know this one well, I wrote in it when I was 21 – ten years ago! I knew that there’d be several different stories within, including my Dragon Princess series. I flick through the pages and to my joy I have already been through this one at an earlier date. Out come my trusty coloured post it notes (pink for D.P., green for D.O.T.S., blue for P.L. and yellow for Q.B.R.). I’m glad that this was an easy notebook to get through today as it was fun to read over my editing notes and add a few more while I was in the zone.
1st August, 2017
Today I received the 100 days planner book. Being a Tuesday it is a house keeping day. So there is not much time to have a look at it… also being two days before Max’s next surgery, I don’t have the mind space to focus on it as much as I would like to. So I have made a plan – my 100 days project will start on my 32nd birthday – a kindy day (if all goes well with Max’s recovery and he’s not sick that day!) I’ve had a quick flick through the planner, and see that it is sectioned into 10 day slots. That is what I will do, do a plan for every ten days, and on that 10th day make the next plan and do a recap. Keeping in mind, I will need to allow time for housework, craft and general day-to-day things with Max – I’ll have to arrange a cooking schedule too, so I don’t go nanas when I get lost in my writing and realise they it’s now time to cook dinner or pick Max up from kindy. I’ll have to have a look at making a date night schedule too – as I can’t let my husband think I am having an affair again… in joke! (after saying one night I had a date with a book, I had him come in telling the book “Get your filthy hands off my wife!”) that was a fun night of giggles. Anyways, as I said before, today is a day for housework so better go pack Max’s toys away for the 4th time and get the vacuum out.
Wednesday 2nd August, 2017
Today is a mental health day… Well I’m going to pace myself anyway. I’m actually feeling a bit drained, and if I don’t watch it, my Chronic Fatigue might just rear its ugly head again. So, after dropping Max off at Kindy, I cleaned up his toys, sat down and watched 2 episodes of One Tree Hill and now I am focusing on writing today’s update before doing the dishes and perhaps a nap before Kindy pick up. I need to take my time today, as tomorrow is going to be a big day with Max’s second surgery on his toes, and he’ll be off Kindy for the next few weeks until he can wear shoes again! So, if last time is anything to go by, I will need to arrange heaps of indoor activities for him to do, which means tonight I will be cutting random shapes up to fit a puzzle template set I got for him (plan to donate this to Kindy when he has finished using it) The notebooks below are the ones I did last night while Greys was on after I had put Max down to bed for the night. It was a little emotional journey as there were a few memories that came with each notebook. In saying that, it’s going to be a little hard going through my personal journals – as I know there are snippets in them that I need to collect. Anyway… enjoy the notes below on the books I prepped last night.
Notebook prep: Yearly Diaries
Yesterday afternoon I tackled the yearly diaries that have been sitting on the dining room table for well over a week. One of my main tasks at the moment is to clear the table completely as it is constantly covered with my current craft projects and our paperwork that I need to sort through. But as most things of mine, before I can put my craft stuff away, I need to sort out my drawers and wardrobe, and before I can do that I need to sort out all of the stuff that is in front of the wardrobe (this consists of things to sell, things to donate and of course that big pile of notebooks I need to get through!) So I dedicated the afternoon to sorting out the story notes in my yearly diaries, only to find that I’ve already done it! Oh well, it gave me time to put them away in storage and focus on the rest of the table…
Prep work: little black book
Found a little bit of time while I had a coffee. Although I’m not usually a fan of notebooks this size, I remember that for once I really enjoyed this particular notebook. I started writing my in it in 2007, so I was about 21, going on 22 when it began. This is another book that I carried with me everywhere. On the train was where I did most of my writings. It has anything from quotes and story ideas to journal entries and poems I have written. There are also notes in it “call Sue” who’s Sue? I have an Aunty Sue, but I don’t haven much contact with her…. one of my friends mum was called Sue, but again I had no reason to call her. I then come across the lyrics to Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten ” and I am taken back to that moment on the train. In here there are many stories and I get my fill of my other worlds before I have to cook dinner. I found this little gem for dragon princess; “and her adventure began like all big adventures.. with a little touch of disobedience ”
The brown notebook
This book was from a time when I thought to organise my story ideas. This book is dedicated solely to Ellie’s story. So it was an easy skim though and post it note session. The gem I found in this book was a few reminders of the training regimen I had designed for Ellie in D.O.T.S. I am really looking forward to writing those parts in full and might steal a few for D.P.
The Aotearoa Notebook
This notebook was given to me when I was 23 by a guy I had just started dating. My mind was not in a good place, and at the time it was just the nicest thing a guy had ever done for me. He doesn’t know it, but this notebook saved my life. It reminded me why I write, and helped me sort my life out. The relationship with him didn’t turn into anything, as shortly after he gifted this to me he left to work overseas. As we had only started dating, we decided not to wait for each other, but if we were still keen on his return, we’d reassess. He went on to meet his now wife, and even though it took a while after for me to meet my husband, this guy showed me that there are good ones out there and that it is ok to wait. Life found a way. I’m not really in contact with him anymore, but Andy, if you ever do read this, thank you so much. We all meet people at different time in our lives, and even through it wasn’t right for us to be together, I met you at the right time in my life. I can only hope that at some point, I’ve done something similar to change someone else’s life.
The chaotic black lined notebook
This notebook used to be my Mum’s housekeeping one. I found it when I was 21 and mum said that I could keep it. In it showed the price of bread milk and cheese in the early 80s. I removed the papers and put those into safe keeping or another time – just can’t remember where I put them! I have filled this book with key ideas and Ellie’s story. It will be interesting to see what secrets it holds!
A woman of spirit notebook
I find it quite ironic that I chose this notebook to write Ellie’s story in. It is a spiral bound book ( which I usually detest) and it looks to be the first notebook I dedicated to her story alone. When I first started writing Ellie’s story, she came to me in a dream. The next morning I woke up and began writing. At first she started out as a pretty little princess who had magical Powers, loved horses and had heaps of friends from different walks of life, you know, the usual story fodder my twelve-year-old self would like to have if she was a princess. By the time I came to this note, I was 19 and had been writing Ellie’s story for 7 years. During this times she had grown from a pretty little princess with no cares in the world, struggled through her antsy awkward teenage years and come out as a girl, who happened to be a princess and grow to become “a woman of spirit”. I haven’t read Pam Houston’s story yet, but it is now on my list of books to read – if only to credit her for inspiration. The book is filled completely with notes about Ellie and her friends, again , another book I am looking forward to reliving.
So now I must leave you; the dishes and more One Tree Hill Episodes await… and perhaps that nap I’ve been craving. If I find time later, I will try to prep more books, as I want to stay on track for my 100 days to start on the 24th of August. (a mere three weeks away!)
Wednesday, 2nd August 2017:
Purple velvet flowers
I loved this notebook! Every time I picked it up I felt special. There was always something whimsical about writing in it. I have half an hour until kindy pick up, the dishes are done and I have a hot coffee as my companion. Within this book are little ditties, poems and my random opinions on things – it’s my first people watching notebook too! This notebook is from when I was 19 and 20 years old. I went on road trips with my friends, dated my first serious boyfriend and had my first soul draining job. This book allowed me to escape to the worlds I created, all while eating a french-toast banana and bacon breakfast with a vanilla latte on the side.
Pink and grey notebook
Apparently this is the most comfortable notebook I’ve ever run into… but alas I either lost it early on in the piece, or I didn’t enjoy writing in it as much as the slogan on the front said I would. I only filled in a few pages in this, so an easy sort through.
The Teddy notebook
I am ashamed to admit this and every time I look at this journal I cringe at the memory. Because this journal was bought with money I stole… well kinda. It was my first and my very last indiscretion. Where we lived when I was a teen, there was a dairy and a post office down the road. At the age of 13 I was in need of a new notebook, so I asked my parents for the money. They both said no, but Dad said I could use my own money if i really needed it.
At the time, I had my own paper run and was earning $20 a month. By my own calculations, I had well over $100 in the account from my paper route. As mum was the joint name on the account, I had to ask her for the card. She said no, and never gave me the answer as to why not. (I later found out that she had been siphoning money from my account to top up bills, so I can only assume that she didn’t want me to find out and have to explain the situation to me – as my parents are not very open about money, it’s no surprise) as a parent now, I somewhat understand the struggle and the temptation of my Sons bank account when our bills fall short.
But I digress… this particular day, I really wanted and needed a new notebook and I had seen a whole stack of them at the post shop down the road, walking distance and easy to pop in and get it. All I needed was the money. So, talking myself into it, I dove into mum’s wallet and pulled the card out that had my name on it. I had never used a card before, but I had watched mum pay with one and put the pin code in countless of times. A little tip to parents: if you have a separate account for your child’s joint account – don’t have the same pin on it as your every day card. Card in hand, I left the house and headed down the road to the post office. I’d just walked out the driveway and I heard my younger sister running after me. I should have abandoned my mission then and there, but I had a lesson or two to learn. Silly me, thought that I was fully justified in using the card without my mums knowledge – it was MY money after all. not only did I know it was wrong, I was naive enough not to realise how easily I could get caught out. And it didn’t help matters that I had my sister in tow. We got to the post office and I picked up the teddy bear notebook. When it came time to pay, I whipped out the card with mixed feelings of importance and trepidation. I should have known I wouldn’t get anything past my eagle-eyed little sister! I froze halfway through swiping as she gasped and exclaimed “does MUM know you have that?!” I brushed her off with a “uh huh” and as a second thought asked if I could get $10 out (a months worth of her pocket-money) as we were leaving, the book feeling heavy in my hand in its brown paper bag, I turned to my sister and gave her the $10 on the proviso that she kept her trap shut. When we got home, we both went to our rooms. Me to begin writing in the notebook and my sister to hide her money in her piggy bank. But when I got to my room, I had nothing to write. I felt so guilty with what I had done and conning my sister into joining me in the crime. I didn’t want to fess up to it, so I thought that if I just put the card away and hid the book, I could forget about it. WRONG. Unbeknown to me, the lady at the post office had over heard me bribing my sister and had called mum at home – while we were walking home! Mum popped down herself, got a copy of the receipt and came into my room to have a chat about it. She showed me the evidence, told me that she had spoken to my sister (who has fessed up the whole thing). Needless to say, I was in heaps of trouble. I learned my lessons loud and clear.
- thou shall not steal
- even if it is your money, if you’re told “no” by your mum you had better listen
- don’t bribe your sister
- don’t trust your sister will keep quiet even if you bribe her
- don’t bribe your sister in front of an adult
- And you will be he one who loses out.
I had to keep the notebook, give mum back the card and my sister still got to keep the bribery money. So yes, every time I look at that book I remember those lessons and cringe. But I didn’t touch the book for another 5 years I felt they that guilty! It’s filled, so I will have to go through and look at it some more, but perhaps I can use the memory and lessons as writing fodder for Ellie’s story!
The plastic leather notebook
I don’t remember much of this notebook. Only that I got it in 2005 and that I hated writing in it. Yet somehow I managed to fill it up with story ideas. It will be interesting to see if my hatred for writing in this book affected my style of writing.
A world full of stories notebook
Again a book I started in 2005. I can see that was a big writing year for me. As you can see it has been battered around a bit. I must have taken this everywhere with me. I open the first page and begin to read…
Chinese silk notebook
It’s been well over a week since Max had his toe up operation and since then, I’ve been sick as a dog with a very nasty cold. I’ll tell you what: looking after a hyperactive three-year-old who should be taking it easy when you have a nasty cold that then turns into a chest infection is no easy feat. Now on my third day of antibiotics (The fourth course in two months) I am finally starting to feel a little bit more like myself. Today the boys have gone out and left me at home to my own devices so I decided to pick up where I left off. Finally, with my emotions slightly in check, I can tackle the pile of personal journals – some of which I haven’t seen or read in over 10 years.
This first journal the Chinese silk notebook goes from the year 2000 until 2005. When I first start to flick through it I noticed that I must’ve started and stopped countless times; I was 15 when I begin this journal and 20 when it ends. The last five years of my teenage-hood are sitting there, staring at me, waiting for me to re-live it. To say I am feeling a little apprehensive is an understatement, but to get and collect all of Ellie’s notes for her story, I need to delve into my past and relieve some of my toughest moments I don’t know how many snippets are in this particular book but I do know many tears and wishes were shared throughout these pages. I’m a big girl now, so I don’t need someone to hold my hand, but I’m sure that after reading this book, I will want to give 15-year-old Toni a huge hug and tell her that everything will turn out to be well in the end.
So here we are sitting at my kitchen table, my post it notes neatly arranged around me ready to stop stalling and just get on with it I take A deep breath and delve into my past…
… I have only got to December 2001 and I’m already i’m crying. I have read about my first break up, The September 11 attacks and my grandfather’s death. The next year doesn’t look any better as the first couple of months recount a close friend’s younger brother’s illness and his death. A few moments later and I am halfway through 2002 I am 17 years old and I am questioning everything. I am asking myself who I am who the person is that I want to be and the choices I need to make to move forward.
At 17 years of age, I believed my life was a lie I didn’t know who I was or where I was going. I felt like no one gave a damn about me. I thought like I was a girl child alone in a bubble; no one listening, no one caring. I didn’t feel like I had anyone to turn to. I think it was about this time that I really came into myself I realised that I had to choose the type of person that I wanted to be. I first learnt the, that no one else could define me – I had to live up to my own expectations. (even though for the next 10 years after this first realisation I would constantly be struggling with this thought, I would eventually make it out the other side and become the person that was wanted to be).
At 17 I took charge of my Demons. I told them to get lost, kicked them in the balls and showed them that I am no ones victim. I am me. I am strong, and life is worth living.
Velvet leaves journal
This journal covers from the years 2005 to 2008. I was aged 20 and 23. This covers my first few years out of home and in my first full time office positions. It covers the time I was made redundant, my search for higher study and my first serious relationships. I began dancing ceroc in these years and whenever I hear Taylor swifts song “22” these are the times I relive in my memory. As I open the cover, the first thing I see is my competitors ticket for the South Island champs competition. This was held in 2008 and I came second in biginners dwas. The next piece of paper is a note of Ellie’s story – score! It is a scene from the masked ball in the last book, but I am making progress. Besides the piece of paper, there were more notes for the Ellie’s story written in the journal.
Brown linen journal
This journal goes from 2008 until 2011, from the ages of 23 to 26. It covers from when I moved out of the city after my bad period, to when I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue and the first year of my event management degree and coping with my illness. My first long distance relationship I open the cover and inside I find some pressed leaves and a spotted feather. Under that is another hand written snippet of Ellie’s story. I remove the piece of paper and put it with the other notebooks. I begin to read my account of my mid 20s…
Black and white silver lined journal
I bought this one from Auckland airport when I was waiting for a flight to Blenheim to see my boyfriend at the time. I know I haven’t filled it up, so only about a quarter is written in, but it’s still worth going through, just incase I find some good gems – as during this time a took a lot of long trecks through the local rangers with it and wrote down a few random thoughts and poems about how my life felt at that moment in time. This covers from 2009 to 2013 (the year I met my husband and he brought me a special journal, a pen and a ring on our first road trip to Wellington! So I ditched this journal and wrote In the next one he bought me – seemed quite fitting.
In this silver lined journal, I have come across my valentines tradition – I came up with the idea on my first Valentine’s Day after my break up with my last boyfriend before I met my Husband.
Basically every year I make something nice with an uplifting quote every Valentine’s Day and on my daily walk that day post the 14 pieces of inspiration into a letterbox on my way to my destination. So, confession time – if on Valentines Day, between 2010-2012 you found a nice heart with an inspirational quote on it in your letter box around the western springs area – that was me! I hope it uplifted your day. I have also found and account on “how chronic fatigue has impacted on my life” It is very confronting on how my life used to be and how I saw the illness then as apposed to how I view/cope with it now… I will write that as another blog post for another time…
The blue wallpaper notebook
This book I bought in Palmerston North while I was on holiday in 2011. I found it in a tiny little shop that turned out to be like the Tardis! In short, it looked small on the outside and just kept getting bigger and better on the inside. Initially I started writing in this as a journal as while I was on holiday, as I had left my usual one at home. Then it turned into a notebook. I had a quick flick through it, and I still have heaps of space left to fill, but no Ellie’s story in this one – instead I found my notes on another story “the oak tree” – I’ve decided will be my next project after my Dragon Princess series.
The pink moleskin journal
This is the journal that my husband bought for me on the weekend he proposed. Within these pages, it tells of our wirlwind romance, our engagement, buying our first home, the conception and birth of our son, his first two years and our wedding. I grew a lot in these years 2013-2016. And this is the time I feel I will always look back on and see when I truely became myself and started living the life I always wanted. This journal tells of my Cinderella fairytale, my prince and my villains – and the journey I took with my breath of fresh air. It recounts the obstacles I have overcome with him by my side and the creation of our awesome family and our life together.
Even though it was a good moment re-living these memories, there were no snippets of Ellie’s story. I’m not surprised as the first two years of a child’s life are full on and consume you!
The blue vinyl notebook
Another one that is only partially filled. This was originally used as my uni notebook for my dance and event management classes. In the few dull boring classes and while I was on the shuttle bus between campus’s I filled it with litttle notes here and there. This is the first book (2009) that I came up with the idea of Martha and Gregory. Definitely a keeper – as they are key characters in the first book.
Burgundy stone notebook
No Ellie’s story notes as such, but I dedicated this particular notebook for research on trees and herbs. Crucial information needed for this project. My pile of keep books is climbing! (So much for decluttering…)
The spiral butterfly notebook
Not really a note book as such, it was a visual diary to help with pieces of Ellie’s story. I’m putting it in the keep pile as there is still room for sketches and the ones I have in there are good!
Blue linen notebook
This is my current notebook- well… one of them! This one I keep on my bedside table for those late night scribbling and ideas from dreams. I constantly have Ellie’s story on my mind now – so the notes are coming fast and freely now.
Gold sun visual diary
Another one where I’ve thought out Ellie’s story. I’ve marked the pages I think will be useful.
Pink leather journal
Another one used for research and write prompts. It has one page on Ellie’s story from daughter of the sword, but will keep this out for times I might need help with writers block.